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Welcome to the Ophthalmic Photographers' Society Blog! The posts on this blog are authored by a myriad of individuals in Ophthalmology. Posts are not always authored by those directly affiliated with the Ophthalmic Photographers' Society and opinions may not be those of the OPS; however, all posts are submitted to a review process and have been approved by the OPS before being posted. Comments are open to the public. New posts are added every Friday, so make sure to check back often!


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My First Internship Experience

Posted By Joyce Kasab, Friday, August 19, 2016
Updated: Friday, August 19, 2016

After spending four years in snowy Rochester, New York, a summer in North Carolina is quite the change of pace. As a student of the Biomedical Photographic Communications major at RIT, a co-op or internship requirement was my last requirement to fulfill before officially graduating and entering the workforce. Sarah Moyer, an RIT alum, graciously agreed to take me on as an intern this summer at the prestigious Kittner Eye Center at UNC Chapel Hill. Because UNC is such a teaching and research-based institution, I knew that the opportunities to observe and learn would be great. Thanks to the innovative clinical studies and patients traveling from all over the state, I was finally able to apply my academic studies and image a wide variety of pathology, ranging from macular degeneration to Stargardt’s Disease, on all types of instruments. It has been thrilling to implement my knowledge in a real-world clinical environment, where my actions directly impact and help patients every day.


 Patient care is vital to ophthalmology, a field with a high amount of geriatric patients. After imaging over 200 patients in just 5 weeks, I’ve realized that the top three essentials to providing a positive experience are patience, clarity, and comfort. An ophthalmic imager must be calm and patient, which puts the patient at ease. This allows the patient to ask you questions so they are not in the dark about their own medical care. Clarity is a skill I’ve honed over time- when I first began speaking to patients, I would quickly speak in detail about the test. As I’ve continued working, I’ve learned what the patients want to know most, and whittled down my pre-imaging "spiel” to the essentials, speaking slowly and clearly. This ensures they aren’t overwhelmed by the information I’ve just given them. My final realization is that a comfortable patient is a happy one. If the patient is struggling physically or emotionally, it will affect their cooperation with the imaging.

In college, I learned about and practiced with mydriatic fundus cameras and one spectral domain OCT machine. When I got to the Kittner Eye Center, I was trained on two OCT machines, in addition to a non-mydriatic, a mydriatic, and a widefield fundus camera that I now use on a daily basis. I was also exposed to anterior segment OCT, corneal topography, specular microscopy, full-field and multi-focal ERG, slit-lamp imaging, external photography, visual fields and even animal imaging. My biggest struggle on the mydriatic fundus camera was adjusting my working distance to avoid artifacts in my images. As for the widefield camera, learning to hold patients’ eyelids and achieve the largest field of view was something I had never done before, and proved to be challenging. There are so many instruments being utilized every day by the rest of the imaging staff, and through careful training, I have been able to expand my technical skills and knowledge. While learning these new processes can sometimes be frustrating, I have learned to take mistakes in stride and continue to ask questions. No one starts off perfectly, and remembering that has been both humbling and encouraging.


As I wrap up a very hot but wonderful summer here at UNC, I’d like to thank Sarah Moyer, Houston Sharpe III, Rona Esquejo-Leon, Debra Cantrell, and the rest of the Kittner Eye Center staff, faculty, residents, fellows, and patients for being so welcoming and supportive. I am sincerely appreciative and grateful for everyone who has helped me get here, and cannot wait to take the next step into the world of ophthalmic imaging.






About the Author: Joyce Kasab is a recent graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology Class of 2016, majoring in Biomedical Photographic Communications. Originally from Long Island, New York, she is interning at the UNC Kittner Eye Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina until August 2016.

Tags:  blog  education  Internship  Kittner  Meaningful Use  New Life 

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The Journal of Ophthalmic Photography makes it to Vanautu!

Posted By Alexis Cullen, Friday, July 10, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In my tiny village of Naviso, with no truck road, no electricity, and no cell phone network, I was walking down a dirt footpath when a woman ran out of her hut, saying she had a letter for me.  I thought it was the typical handwritten note passed down over the mountain from another volunteer or a local who I was working on a project with; however, I was shocked when the biannual issue of the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography was placed into my hands, perfectly packaged in its original plastic, no evidence of wear or tear from the trek it had made!     


It was addressed to me, and even though there is no post office on my island, it was passed person to person until it made it to me.  When leaving for the Peace Corps, I had updated my address on the OPS website.  I knew the address I was adding was not viable for mail, but I had totally forgotten about actually receiving correspondence such as the JOP.  I had thought I was just putting it up there so everyone knew I was in the Peace Corps, halfway around the world.  An accidental experiment proved truly valuable!  It worked! Somehow, the postal system in Vanuatu worked, even though the postal service/road technically ends on Ambae, a neighboring island to our West. This spring issue of the JOP went hand to hand until the last hand made it to me.

I tore the plastic (thank you to JOP for packaging the journal so nicely! It wouldn’t have made it in one piece otherwise!) and opened it as four village women crowded around me to look at the pictures of eyeballs.  I tried as best as I could to explain what we were looking at - the inside of the eye - a timely issue as we have one woman who just went blind at the age of 30 secondary to a seizure disorder.  We also have one 22-year-old male who has a traumatic cataract in one eye after a piece of bamboo hit him in the eye when he was helping to build a house.   


Being here in the village, life is hard – our stores are empty as we only have a ship that comes to our island three or four times a year to pick up Copra (a coconut export) and drop off supplies. You learn how to live with what you have at hand and to improvise. But somehow . . . the JOP made it! 

Thank you OPS! 


About the Author: Alexis left the field of ophthalmic photography in late 2013 to fulfill her life long dream of joining the Peace Corps. She is currently serving in the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific with her husband, Steve.  When she is finished with Peace Corps service, she hopes to pursue a career in telemedicine.  Even though she is not currently in the field of ophthalmology, she maintains her CRA and OCT-C credentials. You can read more about her Peace Corps experience at

Tags:  blog  Interactive  Meaningful Use  New Life  PDC  Peace Corps  Travel  Vanuatu 

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Posted By Denice Barsness, Friday, December 19, 2014
Updated: Friday, December 19, 2014

Who knew that $12.00 an hour could bring tears of joy to a future Don Wong award winner?   It could and it did to this young gal, fresh out of high school where she had fallen in love with photography while hiding out with the other lost souls in the school darkroom.  

At 22 with no career prospects, no health insurance and juggling three jobs to support her toner habit, she took a chance on Henry Ford hospital and Mark Croswell (past BOD member) took a chance on her.   She showed her mettle by braving the public transportation system of inner Detroit to get to work when her car broke down ( and you think YOU have a tough time getting to work!  )  Under Mark’s kind mentoring she built up her resume, her portfolio, and her resolve to make a name for herself in ophthalmic photography.   Several years later she landed a position at the Kellogg Eye Center where she worked as a Ophthalmic Imaging Specialist for just over two years and then moved on to the Director of Ophthalmic Ultrasound at the same University.  

While I’m sure it is daunting to walk the in the footsteps of Csaba Martonyi and Richard Hackle, she’s proven that it’s Girls Rule at Kellogg Eye.   She’s racked up several impressive certifications, awards and was even a member of the Board of Certification.    She is also a founding member of the inaugural Professional Development Committee.    In her spare time she finished her bachelor’s degree and went on to her Masters of Public Health at the University of Michigan.   After work you could find her working as a volunteer tutor or training as a disaster relief volunteer for the Red Cross.   I first met Alexis in 2011 while watching her run away with the best Scientific Session presentation.  I predicted from the audience that this OPS member would walk away with the award, and I was right!

She loves to travel and is currently serving in the Peace Corps with her husband.  She relocated January of 2014 to a small island called Maewo, part of the island nation of Vanuatu.  Her poise and command of the podium went well beyond her years and her trajectory speaks to her hard work and tenacity.  I predict we haven’t seen the best of Alexis yet.

Check out her website ( )to see some of the amazing projects she is involved with!

Tags:  blog  education  Interactive  New Life  PDC  Peace Corps  Professional Development Committee  Travel 

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My - What I Have Learned!

Posted By Taylor Pannell, Friday, August 9, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 9, 2013

When I was at RIT I didn’t want to believe the stories about patient interaction and care. I refused to believe that I would ever have to hold open lids or deal with media opacities or even help hold a patient up to the machine for their tests. I was used to fresh, young, healthy eyes that were used to dilation and bright lights. My ophthalmic instructor always told us that our classmates would be the best patients we’d ever have and she was very right.

When I first started at the eye institute I thought I would have it easy. I thought my patients would be nice and cooperative and that my coworkers would marvel at my accuracy and speed. Reality hit me real fast. This job would not be the walk in the park I believed it would be.

On my first day at the institute I figured I would be at a slight disadvantage because it had been at least a year from finishing my ophthalmic class to when I was hired to work in the ophthalmic field (Meaning it had been quite some time since I had used a fundus camera). I figured I could still keep up and be a great photographer. I quickly became depressed and discouraged when I saw the speed at which my seasoned coworkers could sweep through images on an unruly, uncooperative patient.

Although imaging my first patient didn’t take an hour to do, I still needed to hurry it up. After some practice however, I did manage to quicken my pace.

I also wasn’t anticipating the doctors and their needs. I had no idea that each doctor has likes and dislikes and if you do something they didn’t ask for (even if it’s helpful) you may hear about it. If you forget to do something they ask for (because, again, they each like different things and it’s hard to remember which things go to which doctors) you will most definitely hear about it. Luckily I had great coworkers that taught me (very quickly) what each doctor expected and how to speak to them about it.

When it’s sink or swim you learn to swim very, very fast. I found that I had been thrown into a raging sea of patients, testing, doctors, and high expectations and I thought, for a brief moment, that I might drown. There were two reasons that I survived. I had the drive to stay ahead. I took notes and tried to commit as many things to memory as I could. I also was lucky enough to have supportive coworkers and team members guiding me and telling me that I was doing just fine. Any time I got discouraged or made a mistake, they were there to tell me how they did the same thing when they started and that it’s not the end of the world.


When I went through the biomed program I was very similar to my classmates. We took similar classes and did the same project on the same subjects. When we left our program we all looked the same to employers. So… how did I end up with this position over my classmates? What set me apart? I’d like to think that, yet again, it was my drive. I wanted so badly to find a career in this field, that I took the classes, did the projects, and reached out to my teachers for help (for those of you who don’t know, your teachers are great resources). My ophthalmic imaging teacher led me to a job at the University of Rochester, imaging for a diabetic retinopathy clinical trials project. That job opened the door and introduced me to people that helped me into the position I’m in now.

If I could give advice to anyone currently taking the ophthalmic courses, it would be to learn about OCTs. Also practice, practice, practice taking fundus photos. OCTs are a very popular and in demand test and if you apply for a job already knowing how to use one or at least know how they work, you will be ahead of your classmates. As for the fundus photos, I know almost all of us in the class took photos to meet the requirements of the projects, and then we went home. I wish I had stayed and shot eyes with differing degrees of dilation. It would have made me faster and better at imaging (a healthy eye at least). I don’t think enough people take advantage of their resources when they are in school and they don’t realize that they should have until they graduate and can no longer utilize them.


My advice to the new people coming into this field (or any field for that matter) would be to work hard and try your best. Your coworkers, doctors, and patients will appreciate it. Also, if you make a mistake, own it. Talk to the doctor about what happened. The fact that you can recognize that there is a problem and fix it will make them respect you more.

My last piece of advice or word of caution is to treat everyone you work with (whether it’s a classmate or coworker) with respect. Don’t be lazy and push your work onto them or be rude and inconsiderate. You never know who will have a say in hiring you down the road. Also, never forget to thank people who have helped you along the way no matter how small the help is. They will remember. Speaking of giving thanks, I would like to thank everyone in the ophthalmic department at the University of Rochester. They have helped me learn new things and made me comfortable in the workplace. They are making me the strongest photographer I can possibly be. I’d also like to thank my ophthalmic professor/student advisor at RIT, Christye Sisson. Without her I would not be where I am today nor would I have the knowledge to get to where I am.



Taylor Pannell graduated from the Biomedical photographic communications major at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2012. While there, she studied photomicroscopy, ophthalmic photography and print design and publishing. In October of 2012 she started working on the Tele-I-Care study that dealt with imaging patients with diabetic retinopathy. While working on the Tele-I-Care study she also worked part time in the Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester until she was brought on full time in May of 2013. She is currently working towards obtaining her CRA and OCT-C.

Tags:  blog  cute  education  Ice Breakers  New Life  PDC  Professionalism  school  Study  Tips 

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My Continuing Education: Going Back to School without Going Back to School

Posted By John Peterson, Friday, July 26, 2013
Updated: Friday, July 26, 2013

For several years I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable Master’s Degree program. Before I define "suitable”, and fill you in on what I’ve discovered, let me share some background.

After earning my Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University I worked as a fruit and vegetable inspector for the USDA in New York State; after this job ran out I traveled westward, hoping to snag similar positions in the Green Acres of California. Instead, I took a job with a construction subcontractor, for whom I worked for a few years. In that time I rekindled a latent love of photography and made it work-related: I began photographing our projects and maintaining albums of job-progress photos. That passion continued after I left the company with dreams of plying my photo trade full-time. I fell into Ophthalmic Photography in 1995 and have never looked back. I’ve been at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics for 15 years.

While I was following my own path many of my college friends were getting advanced degrees and marching forward into the corporate, medical, or legal professions. I, too, held onto a desire to return to school, seeing how I knew much more about life than I had when I entered college as a naive 18 year old. If undergraduate years are a springboard into a world of ideas and opportunity, then graduate school is your chance to refine your focus and march ahead with a clearer idea of what you want from life.

As soon as I became a father I knew that returning to school full-time was not an option. My search for graduate programs was put on the back burner until the emergence in the past few years of quality evening / part-time / online programs designed especially for working people. I swung and missed at a few intriguing but not-quite-right programs. I finally connected in late 2011 when I discovered Western Governors University’s Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program in IT Management.

Several factors converge for me in this program: The emphasis is relevant to my skills and aspirations, the degree is well-respected, the program is rigorous, and it is 100% online. Oh, and the price is right. WGU is a non-profit that keeps prices low while taking great pains to build personal connections. Visit for more information than I can provide here (no proprietary interest).

So what’s it like going back to school without going back to school? I rise an hour earlier than usual each morning, and do schoolwork before breakfast. Evenings, it’s dinner with my wife, then back to the books; I quit in time for us to share a drink over "The Daily Show”. On weekends I’ll put in a few more hours, depending on the social calendar. Friday is my one night off per week. I find that methodically plodding toward a goal is immensely powerful. Be faithful to your routine, and the tasks melt away behind you like highway miles on a cross-country road trip.

To prepare for the written assignments (of which there are between one and four per course) we’re given E-Books and articles to read, videos to watch, and simulations to carry out. There are eleven courses total in the program; I’m currently on Number 8, IT Strategic Management. The final course is a Capstone Project that should encompass everything I’ve learned in the program. We’re supported by a student mentor, course mentors, and an active online community.

Observations? I tend to adopt personality traits that reflect the course material I’m currently working on. For example, while taking IT Project Management, I began to view every task I undertook in terms of starting points, endpoints, and milestones, and visualized my life as one giant Gantt Chart. I became greener in my habits when studying Social Responsibility, and subconsciously calculated Returns on Investment while in Financial Analysis.

I expect to finish my program in January 2014. What follows after that remains to be seen. I believe I’ll be well positioned to make myself useful at a higher level in the nexus between Ophthalmology, Imaging Science, Information Technology, and Business.

So, what’s your plan?


John Peterson BS, CRA is Director of Ophthalmic Photography Services at the UW Health Eye Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. He began his career at the University Eye Clinic in Basel, Switzerland. In his spare time he runs a small farm, hunts fossils, dresses up as a pirate, and writes about macro photography at, although not all at the same time. He is currently a candidate for an MBA in IT Management at Western Governors University. Politically, he is against some things and in favor of others.

Tags:  blog  cute  education  funny  Ice Breakers  New Life  PDC  Study 

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